All summer long, I've wanted to take Lauren to the beach. For one reason or another, we kept putting it off. However, the starfish aligned last week, and we made a plan to take a quick day trip down to Atlantic Beach with a friend of mine and her baby girl. I decided to reach out on Facebook (Heather King Witn) to see if anyone had advice about taking a toddler to the beach. I got a ton of really wonderful input!
One of the best pieces of advice I received is good for any beach-goer. I had no idea baby powder was so effective at getting sand off skin. It is amazing! I'm sure veteran beach-goers are rolling their eyes now at this trick, but it was a very quick fix to sand-covered hands for both Lauren and me. This was particularly helpful for the next tip....snacks!
My little one loves to eat. Her word for snack right now is "nack," and we heard it a lot at the beach. We brought more food than we thought we would need--blueberries, crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Along with some milk and water in a cooler, we were all set.
Many people advised about sunblock. I'm pretty militant with protecting Lauren from the sun. She always wears a hat outside to protect that fair baby skin. We didn't spend much time in the sun at the beach thanks to a good call from the friend I went there with. When we arrived at 9:30 a.m., there were still plenty of space on the beach. My friend suggested we take the open spot under the pier so we could spread out without having to worry about putting up the umbrella. It worked out great! Her daughter is only seven months old, so she's also very concerned with protecting her baby's skin.
Another suggestion was to pay to park at the Sheraton at Atlantic Beach. That way you can take advantage of their restaurant. Since you have to pay to park at the public beach access areas in other places on the Crystal Coast, we thought the Sheraton made sense. It did--it was very easy to get right to the beach, and it was great to have those amenities right there.
One Facebook friend cautioned to let Lauren gradually get used to the water. This was great advice. Lauren was pretty freaked out by the waves. We sat along the shoreline and let the waves wash up, and she clung to me the whole time. She nervously repeated "Mama, mama, mama" for a minute but relaxed somewhat. She never did release the death grip though. I can't blame her, but I'm hoping maybe next summer she's more psyched about the surf. Especially since she did not enjoy the sand. She was so excited to see me lay out the quilt we packed but was distressed when she stepped on it, which introduced sand on the quilt. Thankfully, the aforementioned snacks, along with toys, really helped her enjoy the day anyway.
My colleague, Chris Jones, put up a note on Facebook about mentally preparing for the barrage of sand that would infiltrate everything we brought to and from the beach, including the car and somehow the house. He was right! Thousands of tiny grains of sand became our official souvenir, but nothing a little vacuuming and hosing off couldn't handle.
So, Lauren didn't like the sand, and she didn't like the surf, but it was still a great day at the beach. It was fun to watch all the surfers catching what waves they could and people reel fish up on the pier right above us. Looking forward to more beach trips for years to come.